After narrowly avoiding a sweep at the hands of the San Diego Padres, the Braves head up to New York for a three-game series against the Mets.
This is the second time these two teams have faced off this season, as the Braves took two out of three in April in their first series of the season.
This is a different Mets team from the one Atlanta faced earlier in the season, as injuries to a couple of key players have hurt New York. David Wright is on the DL with a fractured back, while Ike Davis is now in a walking boot for three weeks. Starting pitcher Chris Young is out for the season and maybe more after tearing his right anterior capsule. Reliever Taylor Bucholz was recently put on the 15-day DL with right shoulder fatigue.
For the season, the Mets are 26-30, eight games back of Philadelphia, and are 4-6 in their last ten games.
While the Mets offense has struggled some as expected with the loss of two big bats, they have managed to still put up a pretty decent offense. For the season, the Mets are sixth in the NL in batting average (.256), tied for third in on-base average (.328), eighth in slugging percentage (.385), and tied for sixth in wOBA (.318).
One part of their offensive game that has been lagging is home runs. The Mets are tied for the third least home runs in the NL with only 38. A home run from Justin Turner on Wednesday ended a ten-game homer less streak for the Mets.
The Mets have been paced offensively by Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Justin Turner. Reyes is playing out of his mind so far in 2011, already putting up an fWAR of 2.9. On the season, he's hitting .335/.382/.493 while stealing 19 bases. Beltran is back to performing well offensively, hitting .283/.369/.513 with eight homers. Justin Turner was called up to replace Brad Emaus on April 19th, and he hasn't stopped hitting. He's hitting .320/.364/.470 and was named rookie of the month in the NL for May.
Catcher Ronny Paulino is hitting well in limited at bats, putting up a triple slash line of .333/.404/.353 in 58 at bats. There are some Mets struggling though, starting with Jason Bay. Off to a miserable start, he's hit only two homers to go with a slash line of .234/.317/.315. Angel Pagan is back from his injury, but is hitting only .223/.299/.298. Both Willie Harris and Josh Thole are struggling at the dish as well.
Pitching matchups and a look at the Mets bullpen after the jump...
Friday June 3, 7:10 PM EDT
In game one of the series, the Mets send Jon Niese to the mound against Derek Lowe. Niese on the year is 4-5 with a 3.92 ERA, 3.87 FIP, and 3.75 xFIP. He's pitched well in his last three starts, earning a 2-1 record with a sparkling 0.93 ERA. In his last start, he threw a season high 122 pitches while going 6.1 innings, walking four and striking out six against Philadelphia. Niese doesn't strike out a ton of guys, K/9 of 6.75, and walks batters at a decent rate, BB/9 of 3.38. He features three different fastballs, throwing a four-seamer, a two-seamer, and a cutter along with a curveball and a change-up. When he is locating his cutter, he's tough to hit. Along with that, he's featuring his curveball more so far in 2011. Niese gets his fastball up to an average of 90.5 mph so it will be interesting to see how the Braves fair against the lefty.
Saturday June 4, 7:10 PM EDT
In game two of the series, Dillon Gee faces off against Jair Jurrjens. On the season, Gee is 5-0 with a 3.83 ERA, 3.94 FIP, and 4.05 xFIP. In his last outing, he threw seven innings against Pittsburgh, giving up five hits and three runs while walking none and striking out eight in a very impressive performance. Gee strikes out a good number of batters, 7.09 K/9, while also walking a few with a BB/9 of 3.45. Gee hasn't given up more than three earned runs in any of his home starts this season, so it seems like he's taking advantage of the tough offensive ballpark that is Citi Field. In terms of his arsenal, Gee will throw both a four and two seam fastball, along with a change-up, a curveball, and a slider according to pitch f/x. He faced the Braves in the series in April, throwing 5.1 innings, giving up five hits and one run while walking two and striking out four.
Sunday June 5, 8:05 PM EDT
In the finale of the series, Atlanta will go up against the knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Dickey, 2-6 with a 4.39 ERA, 4.15 FIP, and 3.92, is pitching through a torn plantar fascia in his foot, which cannot be pleasant. That injury didn't hurt him, as he pitched well in his last outing against Pittsburgh despite earning a loss. Dickey threw 7.2 solid innings, giving up five hits and three runs while walking two and striking out a season high ten batters. Despite his ten strikeout outing, Dickey doesn't strike out too many batters, with a K/9 just under 6 while carrying a BB/9 of 3.06. Dickey made three starts against the Braves last season, giving up nine earned runs in 18.2 innings, earning an 0-2 record.
- Francisco Rodriguez -RH (CL)
- Bobby Parnell -RH
- Pedro Beato -RH
- Tim Byrdak -LH
- Jason Isringhausen -RH
- Dale Thayer -RH
- Manny Acosta -RH
After a solid start to the season, the Mets bullpen has struggled mightily lately. Prior to their game Thursday, the Mets bullpen had allowed 32 earned runs in 25.1 innings in their last 10 games, good for an ERA of 11.37. Closer Francisco Rodriguez is 15-16 on save chances on the year, and sports an ERA of 1.73.
Pedro Beato has been one of the culprits to the Mets struggles, giving up nine earned runs in his last five innings of work. Bobby Parnell has struck out 12 in eight innings of work but has also walked six batters in that span. Tim Byrdak has been deployed effectively, with the majority of his recent outings being one batter outings.
Jason Isringhausen has pitched well, putting up an ERA of of 3.06 in just over 17 innings.
While Rodriguez has pitched well, the journey getting to him hasn't been that easy. Atlanta will have some chances to further expose the Mets bullpen weaknesses this weekend.
With Lowe, Jurrjens, and Hudson going for Atlanta, it would be nice for the Braves to be able to take two out of three against the Mets. Much of that depends on the Braves offense though, and that holds the key to how well Atlanta does in this series.